At the auto parts store a witness sees the transaction and calls Internal Affairs about it. Before you arrive at home they want you in the office. Unknown to the witness, you actually questioned the clerk about the discount and were told it was national policy to give police, fire, and military the discount. IA calls and confirms and calls the complainant who isn’t happy. There is no easy answer on this. The particular store I am referring to is located in rural areas and the only one open. It is their policy and they will not accept change. The only thing that I can come up with is to send them a check for the remainder and wait to see what will happen.
These last two put the nail in the coffin. There is a four star restaurant in your town. They give uniformed officers a half-price meal deal. I had an officer, off duty, put his uniform on and to take his wife there to eat. It is too crazy not to believe.
Last but not least there was an officer who had a large family to feed. Off duty he puts on is dress uniform and goes to the local Kentucky Fried Chicken and gets enough chicken to feed the family. He may have gotten by with it except that one of the workers mentioned it to a supervisor who called the officer in.
These stories are true. You just can’t make some of this stuff up. Now what do we do? The public will continue to buy a cop a cup of joe. Where does Command Staff draw the line? Coffee, dinner, or other Good Samaritan deeds and how do you handle the public? These are not hard to handle but, you can’t fix stupid. They are things that can be halted by laying out the policy you want in effect and visiting your stores and restaurants to let them know the policy and your reasons.
A simple cup of joe can become a nightmare that will tear down a department. Public relations will be destroyed and some heads may roll. It’s better to avoid all the potential problems by simply paying for the cup of coffee in the first place.